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Kansas ice storms wreak more than $48 million in property damages

The two major insurance issues facing Kansas are winter ice storms that caused more than $48 million in insured property losses and the insurance commissioner's denial of Anthem's proposed takeover of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS).

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According to the Kansas Insurance Department, the January ice storms that slammed into 33 Kansas counties caused more than $48 million in insured property losses, but a great deal more property that was damaged was either uninsured or damaged by the weight of snow, ice, or sleet, perils not covered by standard home or renters insurance.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius is also concerned that many Kansans are unaware that personal and commercial policies that cover property do not include insurance protection against flood damage. "If your home and personal property are vulnerable to damage from rising waters, you must buy a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program to protect them," Sebelius says.

Sebelius takes on Anthem, runs for governor

Saying the deal would cost consumers $248 million in additional health insurance premiums over the next five years, Sebelius made a highly controversial decision to say "no" to Anthem of Indiana's proposed takeover of BCBSKS. The board of directors of BCBSKS has since announced that the company will appeal the decision.

The commissioner nixed the sale just one week after Kansas insurance department lawyers voiced their objections to the deal. At that time, the lawyers admitted their report would "provoke virulent reaction" because, nationwide, typically all HMO acquisitions go through the insurance department approval process without a hitch.

Of her decision to deny Anthem's proposed takeover of BCBSKS, Sebelius said: "Anthem of Indiana is an aggressive for-profit, out-of-state holding company. Its corporate goal is to beat its competitors at making a profit. That's a worthy objective — the essence of free enterprise. But in this case, Anthem of Indiana would have forced premium increases on some of our most vulnerable consumers. I have a duty to protect them."

Shortly after stifling the Anthem deal, Sebelius announced her other decision: to run for governor of Kansas on the Democratic ticket.

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